It was once again time to shine under the ‘Saturday Night Lights’ of Wellington International for the $50,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic Grand Prix during week two of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). The International Arena came alive for a win from Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa from a field of forty-five over tracks built by course designer Ana Catalina “Catsy” Cruz (MEX).
Eleven horses returned for the jump-off, concluding with a true international podium. It was Pessoa and Gonzalo (Viceroy T x Londontimes), owned by Paseo Farms, LLC, that took home the winning title. The 2004 Olympic champion took the victory with a jump-off time of 38.421 seconds.
Gonzalo is the former mount of Irish rider Trevor Breen and recently joined Pessoa’s stable under the ownership of his student Rachel Penner.
“Unfortunately, Rachel had an injury so I’ve been keeping the horses running until she’s back. We got Gonzalo last summer, and have been pleased with him so far, especially tonight,” said Pessoa, who was keen to get the gelding back in the atmosphere of a big class. “He’s thirteen years old now and has a lot of experience, so it was no mystery to us what he could do. We wanted to put him under the lights tonight for possibilities later in the season when he goes back to Rachel.”
Wellington turned out despite a chilly evening to support horse sport in their backyard, and the stands were filled with local show jumping fans to watch Gonzalo show off.
Jordan Coyle and For Gold Kick Off Season with Hermès 1.50m Win
The $32,000 Hermès CSI3* 1.50m Classic shifted to the grass derby field at Equestrian Village for week two of the Winter Equestrian Festival. Forty-three competitors took to Olaf Petersen Jr’s course, with nine returning for the short track.
Of the return contenders, it was Ireland’s Jordan Coyle and For Gold (For Fashion x Heraldik), owned by Falkirk Farm, LLC, who took the win. Fellow Irishman, Cian O’Connor, who ended up third, set a fast pace for Coyle to follow, completing the short track in 42.75 seconds with his mount Kilkenny (Cardento 933 x Guidam), owned by Susan Magnier.
Although Coyle didn’t have the win in mind, he managed to knock nearly a second off O’Connor’s time, winning with a blazing 41.97 seconds. “This was his [For Gold’s] first show since November,” mentioned Coyle of the thirteen-year-old gelding. “My plan wasn’t to go crazy fast, as this is his first show back, but we did end up picking up a pretty quick pace. Each jump came up with that rhythm; he’s so talented, it all came together.”
Malnik Makes Victorious Return with In Writing
Weekend hunter competition at Wellington International sprang into action Saturday Morning as the Voltaire Large Junior Hunter 3’6” 16-17 division saw 11 entries present their final rounds. Having earned a first, two seconds, and a third throughout her over fences rounds, Sterling Malnik of Ocean Ridge, FL claimed the coveted tricolor ribbon aboard her longtime partner, In Writing.
“He is just breathtaking to watch and he has such a fantastic brain,” Malnik commented of the 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Quirado she’s had as her partner for the past four years. “He answers all of the questions that are asked on course so well, and he’s just a winner. He truly has the heart for it and he wants to win, which is just so special.”
The pair only reunited to prepare for their return to the show ring in October after Malnik said the gelding had a well-deserved long break while she focused solely on her jumper career.